Key Matchups

Three matchups to watch when the Sounders host the Earthquakes on Wednesday

The Seattle Sounders are hosting the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. PT; Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV | TICKETS) in their first meeting of the season. Here are three matchups to watch:

Raúl Ruidíaz vs. Rodrigues

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Ruidíaz returned to the Sounders’ matchday roster last weekend for the first time in six weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury. Although he didn’t feature in that contest, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer hinted that he would have made an appearance had the Sounders not been reduced to 10 men in the 75th minute. And while it’s unlikely he starts after his long injury absence, he’ll almost certainly see the field against the ‘Quakes to get some fitness and rhythm ahead of Seattle’s rivalry match against the Portland Timbers at Lumen Field on Saturday. He’ll match up against Rodrigues, a 25-year-old Brazilian central defender and former teammate of Sounders winger Léo Chú at South American giants Grêmio.

Albert Rusnák vs. Carlos Gruezo

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With João Paulo suspended because of yellow-card accumulation and Obed Vargas away with the United States U-20 national team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, it’ll be up to Rusnák to own the center of the Sounders’ midfield. He’ll line up against Gruezo, an Ecuadorian international and one of the league’s better defensive midfielders since his return to MLS. Gruezo was a massive offseason pickup for Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez, who coached Gruezo during his three-plus years in FC Dallas before being sold to Augsburg in the German Bundesliga in 2019.

Nouhou vs. Cristian Espinoza

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Nouhou will have his work cut out for him on Wednesday, as he’ll go toe-to-toe down the Sounders’ left-hand flank with Espinoza, who is having an MLS Best XI-caliber start to the season. The Argentine has eight goals and three assists in 14 matches and has established himself as one of the most creative wingers in the league. Nouhou will need to keep Espinoza from running at him 1-v-1, as he loves to dribble in space and set up teammates in front of goal. His 35 Key Passes on the season is second in MLS behind only Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada. If Nouhou can keep him quiet and prevent crosses to Jeremy Ebobisse, who has five goals leading the line for San Jose, then the Sounders will be in prime position to earn another three points at home.

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